If you have a kickass business idea and your best friend has the right skill set to help you grow your business, what will you do? Take the plunge with your bestie or take whatever advice she has to offer or simply find someone else, a stranger to work with you? Your answer will tilt in either direction depending on your personality, and experience in business – and with the said friend.
While the venture can prove to be profitable and enjoyable if properly managed and structured, it can also lead to a huge disaster. From hurt feelings to the loss of a great friendship – the PSquare saga is a great example – and what have you, I am sure you get the picture.
- Specify roles early. A friend of mine and I were discussing in mid-2011 and suddenly she had a great business idea (an advertising and PR business). I gave valuable inputs and encouraged her to start, which she did. Without much formality I became her business partner. All decisions were taken together and I partook in the technical aspects of the business as much as she did. But conflicts soon arose; I didn’t have the passion for the technical part of the business. This led to preventable fights and hurt feelings. Luckily we soon discovered the real problem and ever since then I have simply stuck to editorial duties which have always been my strength while she deals directly with clients. Result: we are both happy with our roles and business is moving great.
So what am I saying? We could have saved ourselves potential heartache if we asked ourselves what our individual strengths and weaknesses were and what aspects of the business appeals the most to each of us and strictly tailored our duties accordingly earlier. However, it is imperative to also remember that as businesses grow and evolve, so do the roles of the partners. It is one thing to decide initially that partner A has her set of tasks, while partner B has hers, but what happens when new tasks surface? Keep communicating to keep the roles well-defined.
- Create time for play. Do not discuss work-related issues every time, sometimes gist about random issues.
This will help douse off tension that sometimes arise from running a small-scale business in Nigeria. The plus side is, you’re working with someone who understands you and the peculiar challenges of your business as well is to take time off the stress, book a spa session and talk about ordering that great bag off ebay, the current trend in fashion, that cute guy you have the hots for and share beauty tips. Just have fun with your girl.
- Stay open to the other person’s growth. As time goes on, your bestie may want to explore other business interests. Whether she wants to leave permanently or relegate some duties, remember to be supportive and kind. When I decided to start my own writing and editing business last year, my friend was one of my biggest cheerleaders, offering very useful advice based on her experience in marketing and advertising. This invariably strengthened our friendship and my business. Beyond your business, have each other’s backs.
- Be clear about financial goals, savings and sharing of profits.
If the business does poorly due to financial mismanagement or there is a fight over money, the friendship may go down with the business venture. It is, therefore, necessary to discuss financial goals and how profits will be shared in advance and often as the business grows. Be sure you’re on the same page financially else you may never agree on the right form of investment that will grow the business. Also remember to stay accountable and trustworthy with cash. You shouldn’t make financial decisions without your partner.
- Remember the word, RESPECT
Often, egos will need to be checked in order for the business to prosper but remember to speak the truth kindly. Just because your friend works for or with you doesn’t mean you can lose respect for their professional opinion and acumen. Respect her as an individual, a friend and as a business partner. The way you speak to each other outside work shouldn’t be brought in the work environment. If you have anything to correct, do so in love or you may lose more than a business partner.
So should your friend be your business partner? Ultimately the decision is up to you and your friend. Does she have what it takes to add to the business? Can you both handle the occasional pressure? Do you have the right attitude to approach this? If you do, best of luck buddy. Go ahead and build a great business with your bestie!
Do you currently run a business with your friend? How is it working out for both of you? Please share the peaks and challenges of the arrangement with me in the comment section below. I want to hear your thoughts.
About the Writer: Ejura Salihu is a modern-day Polymath and feminist. An Anatomist with a strong zeal for healthcare research, women empowerment in Africa and personal development, she is also a passionate Writer and Editor; and a budding entrepreneur and teacher. Her hobbies are as varied as her professional interests – travel, food, music and great books are the other great loves of her life. She blogs at www.ejurasalihu.wordpress.com and tweets at @Icyquin_MSC. You can also give her feedback via her email: firstname.lastname@example.org